Tega Cay deserves credit for stepping up to buy an ailing private utility system and set a path toward providing better, more reliable service to residents.
In buying the Tega Cay Water Service, the city also bought significant troubles that go with running it. Nonetheless, buying the service was the only practical way to ensure better service and end the grievous sewage spills that have plagued the community.
The Tega Cay City Council voted April 8 to buy the sewer service. The city closed the deal June 13 with an agreement to pay $5.85 million for the utility.
This was part of a $7.9 million bond that refinances existing debt on the system the city already operates – Tega Cay Utilities Department. City officials say the refinancing arrangement allows the city to reduce annual payments on the debt it brought into the new bond from $178,000 to $90,000.
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Nonetheless, the city essentially is buying the utility to fix it and manage it better. That will require approval by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, which has cited Tega Cay Water Service for a variety of environmental infractions, including numerous sewage spills.
One such spill in April dumped 300 gallons of sewage into Lake Wylie, prompting a “no swim advisory” from the utility. Heavy rains apparently had overwhelmed the sewer system, causing the spill.
While Tega Cay’s purchase of the system could result in higher rates for customers, many property owners seemed happy with the decision.
One group of residents who have complained about high rates, poor service and repeated spills have suggested a community-wide celebration of the sale.
Their enthusiasm is understandable. The many sewage spills not only have been an inconvenience for customers but also an environmental threat to the lake, which is the primary water source for all of York County.
As Tega Cay City Manager Charlie Funderburk noted, this situation has been a thorn in the community’s side for decades.
“There have been several different times over the past 30 years where the city has looked into this, but we were able to come up with a plan this time to get it done,” he said. “This is an $8 million deal 30 years in the making.”
Congratulations to all concerned for finally taking care of this pernicious problem.